Why gain global competencies? Intercultural skills will benefit you whatever your career plans
Are you open to trying out different things – new experiences, different cultures or learning things in new ways? Do you look out for, and exploit new opportunities when other people don’t? If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions you may already have the global competencies and mindset which are fast becoming a part of graduate employer ‘wishlists’. Having these is more than just about meeting business needs in a global economy. They will also equip for you many of the situations you face in your student and graduate life.
There’s no shortage of definitions of global mindset and competencies, and of intercultural skills, a closely-related idea. There’s also plenty of different ways graduate employers break them down when they recruit. For students and graduates what’s important is to have a broad understanding of what they mean, to be able to connect them to your own way of doing things, and be looking out for opportunities to develop them.
DB Arriva, the multinational public transport company, assesses graduates’ global mindset in three ways: if you can explain who and what motivates and inspires you; how you try out different things, without fear of uncertainty about what it means; and if you excel in relationship building and using support networks. You’ll notice that there’s nothing here about languages and international understanding, but for DB Arriva the term ‘global’ can mean international, regional or even relate to another business unit.
Other organisations view global mindset differently. For HSBC’s international banking operations it’s partly about being open to different ideas and cultures, communicating openly, and valuing different perspectives. While entry to brewers Heineken’s International Graduate Programme requires a genuine interest in other countries and cultures, language skills and at least 6 months spent working, or volunteering outside your home country.
What this shows us is that having a global mindset and competencies doesn’t have to mean you want to work for a multinational corporation or be globally mobile. Instead it includes skills and ways of thinking that overlap with many of the other things graduate employers will be looking for when they recruit. Whatever career you want to go into (or even if you have clear career ideas), you will need to work successfully in groups where the members are from mixed backgrounds, communicating clearly, and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. This might be in your part-time or vacation jobs, in student societies, voluntary roles or course groupwork. From time to time most of us will find ourselves having to deal with situations where we don’t have all the information we need, having to take on new roles in unfamiliar situations where we have to work outside our ‘comfort zone’. This might look difficult to start with, but the end results can include a sense of achievement, some stories you can use in your job applications, and sometimes finding yourself asking the question ‘Did I really do that?’.
- For more information on why a global mindset is important see:
- To explore how you can develop your global mindset and other skills graduate employers are looking for please visit your university careers service
Iwan Griffiths (Aston University)